Monday, 30 September 2013

War Horse - Book Review

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War Horse – Book Review

Michael Morpurgo

Historical Fiction

Synopsis:

A powerful tale of war, redemption, and a hero's journey.In 1914, Joey, a beautiful bay-red foal with a distinctive cross on his nose, is sold to the army and thrust into the midst of the war on the Western Front. With his officer, he charges toward the enemy, witnessing the horror of the battles in France. But even in the desolation of the trenches, Joey's courage touches the soldiers around him and he is able to find warmth and hope. But his heart aches for Albert, the farmer's son he left behind. Will he ever see his true master again?

Review:

In War Horse, Michael Morpurgo writes a really touching story of friendship and adventure that, despite the tears, I was unable to put down. So I warn you now, this was a great but heart-wrenching read, and one that will require you to keep lots of tissues close at hand.

Set in the bleak ear of World War I, the story is told from the horse’s perspective, but as the reader will learn, Joey is not your average horse. When he is recruited to serve in the cavalry, he is torn away from his boy, Albert, who swears that no matter what, he will find Joey again and bring him home.

Yet that day is a long time in coming. And as the years pass Joey moves from one owner to the next, some kind, some not so… but all the while his thoughts are with his boy, Albert. Meanwhile, all around him the war rages and despite the misery and cruelty he suffers, Joey never loses hope that one day he and his boy will be reunited…

Although aimed at a younger audience, I felt like this was a book that would be enjoyed anyone aged 10 or over. With so many strong elements of friendship, loyalty and hope, it is a book that will inspire and encourage you to believe in miracles. Because watching Joey battle against all the odds, willing himself home… I couldn't help but cheer him on.

Plot wise the story was also very eye opening. For example, looking at a war torn land from a horse’s perspective made me more aware that it wasn't just the humans who suffered. Nor was it just the humans who battled. Many animals were injured, sacrificed and needlessly killed, just the same as the men. Overall it made War Horse a very enlightening read and one I can’t praise it enough. 5 stars!


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Monday, 23 September 2013

Easy - Book Review

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Easy – Book Review

Tammara Webber

NA Contemporary
Synopsis:
A girl who believes trust can be misplaced, promises are made to be broken, and loyalty is an illusion. A boy who believes truth is relative, lies can mask unbearable pain, and guilt is eternal. Will what they find in each other validate their conclusions, or disprove them all?

When Jacqueline follows her longtime boyfriend to the college of his choice, the last thing she expects is a breakup two months into sophomore year. After two weeks in shock, she wakes up to her new reality: she's single, attending a state university instead of a music conservatory, ignored by her former circle of friends, and failing a class for the first time in her life.

Leaving a party alone, Jacqueline is assaulted by her ex's frat brother. Rescued by a stranger who seems to be in the right place at the right time, she wants nothing more than to forget the attack and that night--but her savior, Lucas, sits on the back row of her econ class, sketching in a notebook and staring at her. Her friends nominate him to be the perfect rebound.

When her attacker turns stalker, Jacqueline has a choice: crumple in defeat or learn to fight back. Lucas remains protective, but he's hiding secrets of his own. Suddenly appearances are everything, and knowing who to trust is anything but easy.

Review:

This was a fantastic read and one that I really enjoyed. While I’m not usually a fan of contemporary fiction, the characters had such depth and personality that I was just blown away. I can’t wait to read more books by Tammara Webber, as this one was a page turner!

The story follows Jacqueline, a university student with a broken heart. Still recovering from the break up with her long-term boyfriend, she ditches her friends and leaves a party early. Taking advantage of her vulnerability, another student attempts to rape her but is thankfully stopped by a handsome stranger.  

Still afraid of what would have happened if Lucas hadn’t rescued her, Jacqueline refuses to report the incident. Yet now she seems to be running into Lucas all over the place and as their attraction to one another turns into something more, Jacqueline learns that Lucas may not be the white-knight she thought he was. He has secrets of his own, but the more he tries to push her away, the tighter Jacqueline clings.

Lucas was never meant to be more than a re-bound, but no matter how hard she tries, Jacqueline can’t help but fall in love with him. But will his dark past ruin everything? Or can Jacqueline prove love conquers all…

This story captivated me from beginning to end. Not only is it a great love story, but the plot contains darker elements that will draw you in and make your blood boil in anger, while your heart will sing with compassion. It explores the issue of rape, but does so in a sensitive way, while leaving the strong message that the victim is never at fault and the best thing to do is to speak up about it. It is a book that will hopefully inspires girls to make good decisions!

Jacqueline is an average kind of a girl and an easily relatable kind of character. As the story progresses, you see her evolve from a meek and quiet girl into a confident and self assured woman. One who is set on moving on and forward with her life, refusing to be held back by her past relationships.

Then there is Lucas. An artist with tattoos and a motorbike, he is a total bad boy and heartthrob. But with a sweet, protective side that makes him utterly delicious! Still he is secretive and a little broody and Jacqueline’s reluctance to trust him is justified. Therefore it was nice watching how their relationship developed. It was a slow burn sort of romance with plenty of steamy scenes that left you unable to put the book down.

A thrilling story of love and trust, Easy is a gripping read! An overall brilliant book, 4 ½ stars!


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Monday, 16 September 2013

Poison - Book Review

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Poison – Book Review

Bridget Zinn

YA Fantasy

Synopsis:

Sixteen year old Kyra, a highly skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the brink of destruction - which means she's the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom's future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend.

But for the first time ever, her poison dart misses...

Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king's army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she's not alone. She's armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can't stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?

Review:

I really loved this book! It was fun, adorable, a little tom-boyish and held plenty of surprises. It just contained everything I could possibly want in a YA Fantasy. Although I definitely think that this story would be enjoyed by a slightly younger audience too, perhaps girls aged 10 upwards.

Poison’s story follows Kyra – a master potioner on the run. After failing to assassinate her best friend, the princess, Kyra has spent the last few months living off mouldy bread and sleeping it rough. But after making a deal with Arlo, the kingdoms most notorious crime lord, she thinks she can finally track her friends whereabouts, and end the princesses life once and for all.

Setting out with her tracker pig, Rosie, Kyra plans on ending things as soon as possible. But then she gets rescued by Fred, a dashing lone traveller and Kyra finds him impossible to shake off. But can she really draw him into her world of poison and death? As her feelings for him grow, Kyra knows she must come clean about who she really is, but with evil forces pulling her from all sides, Kyra must decide what she is more willing to sacrifice. Her best friend and the Kingdom… Or the truth and her heart?

There were so many things about this book that I loved. The humour, the romance, the plot, it was all brilliant.

Kyra is a spunky heroine and her sharp wit and sarcasm made her extremely likeable and easy to connect with. Fred, the handsome love interest, was both sweet and dashing and everything a fairytale heart-throb should be. The Princess however, with her un-princess like manners and ballsy attitude, remains my favourite character. She managed to make me laugh again and again.

However the secondary characters… I felt many of them lacked depth and were a little under developed. I would have loved to know more about Arlo and the duchess, even the two other master potioners, however that alone is my only criticism of this book.

The plot kept me guessing with many unexpected twists and turns. However, I don’t quite know how to explain, but this book was fantastical in a way that appealed to the child in me. It reads as an almost fairytale like story and has so many magical elements that I couldn’t put it down. A younger me would have really really loved this story!

So overall a truly spell-binding read that I would recommend to all. Cute, fluffy with a slightly deadly centre, Poison is a fantastic read for any lovers of fantasy. 4 stars!


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Monday, 9 September 2013

Existence - Book Review

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Existence - Book Review

Abbi Glines

YA Paranormal

Book #1 in the Existence Trilogy

Synopsis:

What happens when your stalked by death? Why, you fall in love with him of course. Pagan Moore doesn't cheat death, she falls in love with him.

Seventeen year old Pagan Moore has seen souls her entire life. Once she realised the strangers she often saw walking through walls were not visible to anyone else, she started ignoring them. If she didn't let them know she could see them, then they left her alone. Until she stepped out of her car the first day of school and saw an incredibly sexy guy lounging on the picnic table, watching her with an amused smirk on his face. Problem is, she knows he's dead.

Not only does he not go away when she ignores him, but he does something none of the others have ever done. He speaks. Pagan is fascinated by the soul. What she doesn't realise is that her appointed time to die is drawing near and the wickedly beautiful soul she is falling in love with is not a soul at all.

He is death and he is about to break all the rules!

Review:

I enjoyed this book with its sweet romance and paranormal drama. What it lacked in depth, it made up for in plot and intrigue and I look forward to continuing with the next book in the series, Predestined.

The story begins with Pagan, a high school girl who can see the souls of the dead. After spending her entire life ignoring them, she is surprised to meet Dank, a soul who can not only speak, but is also very easy on the eyes. Yet straight away Pagan knows there is something different about Dank. So when he turns up at her school, a human for all to see, Pagan knows she isn’t just dealing with any old soul… but death itself…

I thought this story had a unique plot. It certainly kept me guessing and often took surprising directions. The characters were well written and I found Pagan head strong, independent and easy to relate to. A great protagonist and one that was easy to read.

Dank however was truly a pleasure, although I felt it took awhile to get to know him. Also for a long time it wasn’t made clear on who Pagans main love interest was suppose to be… but of course Dank soon became the obvious choice. Leif was also a very yummy character, but in nice guy kind of way.

The secondary characters were also well written. I liked them all and thought they played their parts spectacularly. Gee, with her feisty ways and quick wit is easily my favourite character and I hope we get to see her more in the next book.

My only nitpick is that I thought the middle of the book dragged a little and I didn’t like how Pagan used Leif and neglected his feelings. However the last part of the book is pure drama and the cliff hanger ending; let’s just say it’s a guarantee that I will be reading the next book.


Overall a nice start to a new trilogy. 3 ½ stars! 


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Monday, 2 September 2013

Uses For Boys - Book Review

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Uses for boys - Book Review

Erica Lorraine Scheidt

YA Contemporary

Older Teens

Synopsis:

Anna remembers a time before boys, when she was little and everything made sense. When she and her mom were a family, just the two of them against the world.. But now her mom is gone most of the time, chasing the next marriage, bringing home the next stepfather. Anna is left on her own - until she discovers that she can make boys her family. From Desmond to Joey, Todd to Sam, Anna learns that if you give boys what they want, you can get what you need. But the price is high - the other kids make fun of her; the girls call her a slut. Anna's new friend, Toy, seems to have found a way around the loneliness, but Toy has her own secrets that even Anna can't know.

Then comes Sam. When Anna actually meets a boy who is more than just useful, whose family eats dinner together, laughs and tells stories, the truth about love becomes clear. And she finally learns how it feels to have something to lose - and something to offer. 

Review:

I have to say – this book didn’t do a lot of things for me. I admit, I walked into it knowing very little about the book itself. However the story addresses some very sensitive issues and I commend the author for choosing to write about topics considered delicate in the teenager world. Yet as much as I liked Anna’s character, ultimately I just thought the book read very flat.

Anna only wants a family, someone to be there to welcome her home from school, cook her dinner and assure her that everything is going to be ok. Her mom used to do that, but not anymore. As her mom flits from one man’s bed to another, Anna’s loneliness spreads through her system like a disease. Until one day on the school bus when a boy touches her for the first time and she starts to wonder, is this what love is? After that first sexual experience, she seeks out other men, letting them take advantage of her while she convinces herself this is all she needs to feel loved.

Then Anna meets a girl named Toy – another lonely girl – who makes Anna realises that there may be better men out there. The kind who will treat her right, buy her things and be there when she needs comforting. And so she meets Sam, who is just the kind of man Toy described. He changes Anna’s world and offers her the thing she always wanted, a family. But can Anna trust herself to not screw things up?

At the essence, this book is a story of how a girl finds her self-worth. Not through a guy, but because a women finally tells us to value herself more, and that she is worth more than the pair of boobs men tend to see her as.

However Anna goes through a lot of men before she discovers this. And the book explores the darker elements of children following in their parents footsteps. With scenes of rape, drugs, violence and depression, this is by no means a light read.

The writing style is also interesting. For while the book sees us through several years of Anna’s life, the voice of the character never seems to change. She remains childlike, in both her beliefs and dreams, yet her experiences are certainly adult which in a way, makes the book even darker.

Otherwise I found the plot a little repetitive. Each chapter Anna had a new guy and she never really seemed to learn anything from her experiences. Also while I understand that Sam is the one who is supposed to ‘save’ her in the end, I didn’t really feel like much had changed – other than Anna deciding she wanted a better life for herself. It all left me feeling kind of… ‘Oh, well I guess that’s it then. Story over.’


So while I respect the author for bringing these unspoken issues of teenager life to the surface, I’m sad to say that I just couldn't connect with this book. For that reason I rate it 2.5 stars! 


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